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Repeated raids force more than 3,500 villagers to flee Sagaing region township

Junta raids over the past five days have forced more than 3,500 villagers to flee their homes in Khin-U township, locals told RFA Thursday.

They said troops started burning homes in eight villages, including Koke Tet, Yone Pin and Thin Paung, on May 7.

A 60-year-old woman from Koke Tet village, who did not want to be named for security reasons, told RFA the displaced people no longer have enough food.

“There is nothing at home. Villages were torched,” she said. 

“Now people are hiding in the forest. And we are fleeing from place to place as the army is raiding villages and we were not able to take anything from home when we fled.”

The number of houses burned by the military is not yet known as locals said they were too afraid to return home while troops were still in the township.

Khin-U has come under repeated attack by junta forces since the 2021 coup. Around 70 villages have been attacked by the junta, who burned more than 20,000 homes in the township between Feb. 1, 2021 and April this year, according to the pro-democracy Khin-U Information Group.

A 60-year-old man, who also requested anonymity, told RFA he was forced to flee his home in Khin-U township four times over the past two years and he and his fellow villagers are struggling to survive.

The situation is similar across Sagaing region. Nearly 750,000 people have fled their homes due to fighting and insecurity since the coup, according to a May 6 statement by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

RFA’s calls to the junta spokesman for Sagaing region, Aye Hlaing, who is also the regional minister for social affairs, went unanswered Thursday.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.